Memory Loss: Is it Alzheimers?

I get a lot of questions about concerns patients and family members have about troublesome symptoms of memory loss when I am treating them for Depression and Anxiety. They wonder whether they have Alzheimer’s Disease and not Major Depression. 

Memory loss—and that is short-term memory loss—is very common with Depression. Depression affects the brain in a way that impairs the storage of information into long-term memory. What I mean by short-term memory is the memory of what you had for dinner the night before or what you discussed with a friend earlier in the day. People with Depression often lose some short-term memory but not memory from when they were a child (or long-term memory). 

It is normal for people to have some trouble with memory when they are stressed from time to time. But if it is happening every day and creating embarrassment in your life, i.e. forgetting 3 days in a row your preschooler needing to be picked up at a certain time or repetitively forgetting appointments, then I would suggest you go get an evaluation from your Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. You may be depressed or anxious and could be helped with some therapy and possibly medication. 

Years ago, I suffered from a bout of Post Partum Depression after my last child. My older daughter who was about 14 at the time felt the brunt of it. One day she called me from school and asked me to bring her term paper that she forgot. She had called me in the middle of the day to bring it at the end of the day. A half hour before she needed it, she called me again to remind me because she knew I had an issue with that. I reassured her that I would be there. Then I get a third call from her after I didn’t show up 10 minutes after I should have been there. She was very upset with me and distressed. I was so embarrassed! I felt bad knowing that I had let her down and how she must have felt thinking that her own mother didn’t put her needs on a higher priority than what I was doing at the time. I’ve always wondered if I scarred her for life during that very dark time for me. Hopefully, she has forgiven me… 

Please don’t let this happen to you! Get help if you see some concerns with memory—particularly short-term memory.

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